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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  September 1, 2009 11:00pm-12:00am EDT

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incident response people over at the energy department, the secret service, even the animal disease center at the agriculture department. 22 agencies in all became one big agency under the vaguely creep brand name of homeland. now, are we any better at doing all of those government functions because they're all in one big agency? are we better off, say, with a fema that's part of homeland security instead of it being represented in the cabinet as a standalone thing? that's a good question and an important one. the national catastrophe that was the flunked response to hurricane katrina was 2 1/2 years into the new homeland security arrangement. on the flip side, of course, it should be noted ultimately it was the coast guard that came to new orleans' belated but frankly relatively competent aid and the coast guard, as part of the homeland security agency, too. the man at the center of this biggest transformation of the federal government in modern history, the biggest change in what we pay federal tax dollars for since we got a unified
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defense department in 1947, is our next guest. his name is tom ridge. he has a new book out called "the test of our times." it's a very human book. it reads as sort of one man's adventures in nationally consequential politics. the buzz about the book thus far has focused on one passage that's buried way down to start on page 236. just before the '04 election, another osama bin laden video was released. secretary ridge says he didn't believe that a threatening tape alone was ever justification for raising america's formal threat level. it's just not that simple. but at the end of october, october 29th, just before the election, he says, quote, a vigorous -- some might say dramatic -- discussion ensued. and then attorney general john ashcroft strongly urged an increase in the theft level and was supported by then secretary-general donald rumsfeld. ridge said, quote, there was absolutely no support for that position within our department. none. i wondered, is this about
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security or politics? post-election analysis demonstrated a significant increase in the president's approval rating in the days after the raising of the threat level. now, although this hasn't been as widely quoted as that passage you just heard, secretary ridge than continues, and i think this is important, he says, quote, as the minutes passed at our video conference, we concluded that others in the administration were operating with the same threat information that we had at dhs, and they didn't know any more than we did. and we concluded that the idea was still a bad one. it also seemed possible to me and to others around the table that something could be afoot other than simple concern about the country's safety. joining us now is former pennsylvania governor, former homeland security secretary, a vietnam veteran awarded the bronze star for valor as an infantry staff sergeant, mr. tom ridge, who's also the author of "the test of our times: american under siege and how we can be safe again." mr. secretary, thanks for coming in.
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congratulations on the book. >> rachel, thank you so much for the invitation and i had a hunch that you might begin our conversation with that passage. >> well, that's where all of the hullabaloo is. >> well, it is. >> i want to give you a chance to talk about it. because i think it's important to know that the politicalization of security is not just this passage, it's an ongoing theme in the book. have you two chapters that are titled that way. >> right. >> and you argue that the perception that decisions on national safety would be made not for actual national safety reasons but for political reasons. you argue that that perception is pernicious, it impede what's we need to do to keep the country safe. why do you think it's so dangerous? >> well, that's not quite the argument that i put in here. >> okay. >> earlier in the book before this passage is referred to -- first of all, i thank you for raising it. it's a very important question. i wrote the book to shed some light on the challenges we faced setting up the department, the successes, the missteps and the way ahead. that passage has generated a lot of heat so i would like to generate a little light on it. >> okay. >> earlier in the book i remind
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everybody that the system we designed to raise the threat level could not be manipulated, could not be orchestrated, directed or pressured by any single individual. regardless of what anybody says, the system was designed by the president to include the homeland security cabinet group sitting around from time to time when the intelligence warranted that group discussion, be it youtube video of it, you would see the secretary of defense, attorney general, secretary of state and others having a conversation as to whether the intelligence generates enough concern that we want to raise the threat level. that happened many, many times. this is a particularly dramatic moment because it is the weekend before the election. >> right. >> we don't see anything in the department that generates it, and certainly other people's agreed with us. but secretary rumsfeld and attorney general ashcroft very strong in their opinions, as everybody had expressed opinions on many other occasions that you never heard about because we never -- we never raised the threat level.
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at the end of the day i am using in the book, is there more intelligence? that is news. that is not speculation about politics. because at no time -- at no time -- at no time did politics enter in my judgment anybody's equation. these are tough judgment calls. we made them on a series of occasions throughout two years. rarely did we make those decisions to go up. politics was not involved. the system was designed that people made judgments, the homeland security assistant to the president would make a recommendation. those are the only ways we could go up. as i say in the book, even the president couldn't raise it. >> so to be clear -- and i want to be clear on both. that's a have very clear, cogent explanation. and that makes sense internally. but i want to square it with you book. are you saying you were not pressured to raise the security alert on the eve of the '04 elections? >> i'm saying i was not
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pressured. i'm saying in the book, since i am the secretary, and if we do decide to raise the threat level, the consequences to oversee the enhanced security right before the election belong to my -- my departments. and i say at the end of this discussion, a vigorous discussion were people rendering judgments on my mind based on what they think was in the best interest for the safety and security of the country, i am using in the book, is there something else here? what am i missing? i don't get it. is it politics? is it security? what's driving this discussion? but at the end of the day, what i say to you, rachel, is the process worked. politics wasn't involved. >> the reason that this keeps coming up, i'm just going to read to you directly from the fly leaf of your book. >> read my words. >> such as the pressure the dhs received to raise the security alert on the eve of the '04 presidential election. that's wrong. >> those aren't my words. >> okay.
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>> read the book. >> it says -- it comes with the book. it's the dust jacket. >> it's the dust jacket. but my words in the book say very specifically, and even some of my friends who -- people -- i understand the concern about the passage, and i understand the concern about my response and my musing, but i'm here to tell you as i said earlier in the book, the system is designed so people who made critical judgments about the information in front of them and about the entire time i was secretary, i believe the system worked. we went up three, four times. you will never know the other times we had the same conversation when people said we ought to go up. we didn't go up. unless there was a consensus based on security, actionable intelligence, we never went up. >> the reason this matters so much to people, it's not just a -- it's not a gotcha thing. i am persuaded by the argument i think you made in the book, you may not have intended it from what you said earlier, that it is a pernicious thing for the american people to perceive, that the parts of the government responsible for our security are actually making decisions that
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aren't about our security at all. they're telling us it's about security and it's not. when you came out in 2005 and you said at a forum about the terror alert level, you said there were times when some people were very aggressive about raising it, and we said for that? >> yes. >> were there times -- were there times when you felt like people were wanting to raise it for reasons that weren't about the country's safety? >> no. i'm trying to express a human reaction that i had leading a new department with a massive responsibility, creating relationships with other agencies, and, you know, i didn't go in as a counterterrorism expert but i had a great intelligence group and i learned a lot about terrorism along the way. and i do admit, there were some times when we took a look at the intelligence. some of my colleagues said, yeah, i think we better go up. but none of the colleagues had the responsibility of dealing with the consequences of taking our country to a higher level. so we were always very modest. we had a higher threshold to go up i think than anybody else. >> are you saying that people were saying it should go up? >> no. they were saying -- >> for political reasons? >> i don't doubt for a moment
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that any of my colleagues involved in those discussions felt the reason we should go up or not go up, add more security or reduce the security, is based on what they thought was in the best interest of the security of the country period. but i had a natural reaction, it's in the book. i said for what? i must tell you, a couple of times i would come back to the office and say, i don't get it. >> right. >> i don't think that's enough to go up. and part of that is yours truly saying to his leadership team who has responsibilities to oversee what's going to go on, there's not enough here to tell the governors and mayors and security professionals, you have to raise another level, you have to increase expenses, you have to call in personnel. in my judgment, it wasn't enough. by the way, every time we made the right decision, i believe. >> when you wrote, not on your leaf but in your book, you wrote, i wondered is this about security or politics, you're saying now that you wondered that and you shouldn't have? >> no. i used at the time, is there something else here? >> but there wasn't anything there. >> but there wasn't anything
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there. >> it seemed possible to you that something could be afoot? >> at the time i think some people might have thought there could be a political decision. but i don't recall it. people were arguing very vigorously about that. i remember after the meeting scratching my head. we went back out and said, is there intelligence out there that we're not aware of? is there something else here afoot? end of story. we did not raise the threat level. that was the right decision. >> when you were worried about it, though, at the time and you're describing now and you're being very specific, and i think it's really helpful, in terms of what you were worried about, versus what you believe now is really going on. you were worried at the time there were politics involved. you say now you can tell there weren't politics involved. but if you were worried at the time that there were politics involved, that the threat level was -- there was pressure on the threat level, pressure on decisions about national security that were about politics and not about the safety of the country, why didn't you warn us? why didn't you say something publicly?
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>> because there was no reason to warn you. it was dramatic, it was the eve of the election -- i'm sorry, i deposit mean to interrupt you. go back and look at the internet. people were saying, i wonder if they will cancel the election or postpone the election? this is the same year six or seven months prior to there had been an incident before the spanish election that probably turned the election. so the fact that politics was on my mind when i'm using myself, is there something else going on here, did not seem irrational at the time to even write in the book. there were a lot of things at play. second guessing the reasons my colleagues went up was not one of them. >> right after you described those feelings, you said i made a decision. i knew then i had to leave the administration. were those concerns at the time, whether or not they were founded, part of the reason that you left? >> that may not have been as artful as it should have been. it was a natural time for transition. and frankly when the president asked me to stay on to go from assistant to the secretary of homeland security, it was fairly well known that i probably would leave at the end of the first term. >> that was not part of the decision, did not factor into the decision? >> it did not.
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>> would you mind sticking with us through, we have to take a commercial break. and there are a number of other things specifically about decisions you made at dhs, momentous decision that's were still -- have still really shaped our homeland security capability today that i would love to ask you about if i haven't offended you too much already? >> no, it's been a wonderful discussion. i appreciate you letting me shed some light. >> you will stick with us for a second? >> you bet. >> governor tom ridge of pennsylvania, former secretary of homeland security. his new book is called "the test of our times." we will be right back. some pharmacies make you work for it with memberships and fees. but not walmart. they have hundreds of generic prescriptions for just $4 for up to a 30-day supply or $10 for 90 days. save money. live better. walmart.
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my special guest tonight, tom ridge. the first director of the department of homeland security. we'll have more with him in just a moment. our guest is former pennsylvania governor tom ridge. he has just written a new book called "the test of our times" about being the nation's first secretary of homeland security. governor, thanks again for staying with us. >> thanks for asking me to stay. >> i'd like to ask you, because today is an anniversary of sorts. i would like to ask you to watch about 60 seconds of footage that is from four years ago, from -- from september 1st, 2005, obviously, the after math of hurricane katrina, okay? all right. >> he's not waking up easy. this is not about low income. it's not about rich people or
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poor people. it's about people. >> we're suffering here with no water. i fought my country for years. look at the predicament i'm in. i can't even go back to my own house in new orleans. i don't have nowhere to go. >> worse than animals. in baghdad, they airdrop water, food, to people. why can't they do that to their own people in new orleans? >> people have been in here since monday. today is thursday. they have been telling us buses are coming. buses are coming. don't go to the superdome. come to the convention center. we're at the convention center. nobody's here. >> it's not right. it's just not right. >> now, governor, in your book, you describe the government response, no-holds-barred here, you describe it as pathetic, incompetent. that footage was four years ago today. you left the homeland security department several months to the day, actually, before -- before that happened. i have to ask you, did everything just go to hell at dhs in the seven months after you left that agency, or do you think that you bear some responsibility for homeland security just failing the country so catastrophically after katrina?
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>> well, i guess if you want to send some responsibility my way, i would have to accept it. i don't think -- i think my team left in place some procedures and protocols that there were ultimately used, but had they been used before i think would have minimized the heartburn -- the heartbreak associated with the totally incompetent response of federal government at all levels. i think the federal government actually shares some of the blame. but the federal government didn't put everybody in that superdome. the federal government didn't keep the buses in the parking lot and not evacuate people. the federal government didn't fail to call up the national guard. so there's enough culpability there. but i think as i say in the book, there were certain things that we developed that we left on the shelf. and had some of those things been used in preparation for the disaster, because that's what
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pima does to a certain extent, and that's what the department was to do rather than after the disaster, the tragedy and heartbreak would not have been eliminated, but it would have been reduced. >> one of the things you really focus on in the book is the proposal not just in terms of national preparedness planning but also specifically that there ought to be regional response centers. you wanted there to be one in new orleans. >> correct. >> that doesn't seem to be the lesson learned by the rest of the people in the federal government. that hasn't happened since. why do you think that hasn't happened since? you made a case that would have made a huge difference. >> i think it would have made a huge difference. i think the notion that as a former governor, you shouldn't be surprised that i think you can't secure the country inside the beltway. you can't prepare -- you can't maximize your ability to prepare for a terrorist attack, respond to a national disaster, respond to all of the attacks signed the beltway. our theory was in time let's have eight regional centers. let's consolidate our capabilities to do all of these things over one period of time, and one of those things would be new orleans. would you have had a primary official there associated with the federal government and dhs because that individual would have the relationship with the mayors and the governors and oversee the preparedness.
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and i'm hopeful that the book may generate some interest, whether it's our version of regions or other versions of regions, you have to take some of the insight of levels of washington and put it into place. >> why didn't dhs get blamed broadly speaking for what happened over the failures of katrina? fema got brain and michael brown became a household word, his name because a household name. but the department of homeland security, yourself having left seven months before and michael chertoff having been there, even as a person, chertoff specifically being blamed in some of the congressional after action reviews as to what went wrong didn't end up becoming part of the legacy as the agency as a wheel. it all came down on fema. why do you think that? >> i think the primary responsibility to respond to this event was fema. but as you pointed out and i appreciate you championing the coast guard. it's probably one of the most underappreciated, underresourced
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multitask organizations in the federal government. they did come to the rescue. again, there was another blame to go around. we will never be able to go to -- kind of undermine the confidence of the people generally in the federal government. i think frankly in the state and local government, there's culpability there. but i think the most important thing in the aftermath of such a tragedy is there were lesson learned. fema did make significant changes afterwards and i believe if it ever happened again -- this is almost biblical in proportion. nobody ever anticipated it. we did have a plan on the shelf that said if there's something that overwhelmed the capability of fema and the state and local governments to deal with it, you can go to this plan. well, they went to it after the incident happened rather than implementing it before. >> that shelf was not that superdome. that is -- this is one of the great american tragedies of the life of our country. >> no question about it. >> we have to take one more quick commercial break. when we come back, if you don't mind, i would like to ask you about something that you write
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about -- i think in a pretty moving way in the book, about things that you said about iraq, linking the issue of iraq to homeland security. you say some criticism that you took for that was deserved, and you also made reflections on that. i would love to be able to talk to you about that if you have just a moment. >> if you don't mind. i don't. >> governor tom ridge is our guest. he's the former governor of pennsylvania. he's the former secretary of homeland security. his new book is called "the test of our times," and he's now sort of unofficially my hostage because i won't let him leave the studio. if you will forgive us both, we will be right back.
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our guest is former pennsylvania governor tom ridge, who has just written a new book called "the test of our times." it's about being the nation's first secretary of homeland security. it is a very good read, and you are being a real sport by sticking around with us, governor. thanks. >> you're welcome. >> one episode you write about in the book is about you saying in august 2006 that the president's leadership was causing us to better target our defense's measures here an way from home. and the implication was going to war in iraq was a defensive measure like homeland security stuff that we do here at home. you regret having said that, which the president asked you to say? >> well, i do agree with it. i agree with the president's engagement with pakistan and getting the enemy intelligence service to get the information and let us make that decision. but, again, referring to our earlier conversation, we had a
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conversation among the president's homeland security group. we decided that the hard drive and the surveillance tapes on northern new jersey, new york city and washington merited us going up. so i'm going to hold a press conference. that's my job. i'm going to tell america what we're going to do. we're going to surgically apply the threat. we're going to raise the threat. that means more preparedness, more security. at the last minute, at the request of some folks at the white house, who don't need to be named, said why don't you praise the president? i never praised the president before. i have a bunch of people waiting. i threw the president's name in. it became the sideshow. it marginalized the process. people then questioned. you talk about politics, when i used the president's name, and he was -- it was because of the toughness towards pakistan, the intelligence service, blah, blah, blah. but got that hard drive, i should not have mentioned it because it detracted from the real message, that is the intelligence is real. the president's homeland security council thinks we need to add security around these
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venues. so it marginalized my press statement, and marginalized the intelligence. and nobody is responsible for that but me. >> but when you said targeting our defensive measure as way from homes, august '04, so we are more than a year into the war in iraq with the implication there is that you were talking about iraq. >> well, the fact is there was a war -- we were talking about the general war against these terrorists and our presence in afghanistan, iraq and the pressure we had to put on the pakistani intelligence service to be -- to cooperate more completely and comprehensively with us resulted on us getting the intel. we acted on the intel and went up. i should have never mentioned the president's name. again, it created a perception that we talked about earlier, that politics were somehow involved. and politics were not involved in that decision. >> that point i understand. but when i look at your record, i feel like, you know, you didn't slip in a reference to the president and a reference to
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iraq once in this mention in 2004. you were a crucial authoritative part of making what turned out to be a false case to the american people about iraq being a threat, and that's needing to attack them. february 2003 you said on abc, "i agree that the president has said the world community has said this is a rogue regime that has chemical biological weapons trying to develop nuclear weapons, has means of delivery. that's the reason this individual needs to be disarmed. the point in fact is that the world community has known for 12 years he has chemical biological weapons, means of delivery, and that's precisely the reason of the united states and its partners are trying to disarm saddam hussein. he's a threat to his region, he's a threat to our allies. he is a threat to us." you made that case on national television a month before we invaded. do you regret that? >> no. >> do you think it's true? >> at the time i thought it was true, and subsequent to that, the president's leadership and the things we have done kept america safe. >> do you think saddam hussein was a threat to us at the time we invaded? >> based on not only the intelligence we had but the
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intelligence that was shared, i believe, it's been known by the brits and the french, they had used weapons of mass destruction, that he was, again, several intelligence agencies thought he still had them. and i believed -- i believed if he had a weapon of mass destruction, a radiological, a crude radiological device, nuclear device or something, for him if he had them, did i believe he would give them to al qaeda if he had them? the answer was yes. >> that's what you -- >> so i believed it at the time. >> you believed it at the time. >> yes. >> you don't still believe it, do you? >> no, it's pretty clear that the intelligence communities of several countries who had assessed his -- who claimed that he had weapons of mass destruction, we haven't found them. >> you think they might still be there and we just haven't found them? >> i doubt it. i think we covered that country. but there were other reasons to go in. that was the one everyone focused on and everyone was critical for the president going into iraq and said we never found them.
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but i think the president made the decisions based on the facts and the intelligence as he knew it at the time and i think it was the right decision at the time. >> you don't think that the administration, vice president cheney, your longtime friend, president bush, the -- the intelligence system set up under donald rumsfeld's pentagon, you don't think they had any role in skewing the intelligence to a foregone conclusion? you think it was an intelligence community error and not a political assassination, really? >> yes. i know some of these men better than i know others but i don't think any one of these men would have contrived in their own mind a scenario without in their own mind and heart substantive belief based on information that they received that the threat was real. there's no way that anybody in that group -- i just -- they would commit our blood and our treasure to a cause if they didn't think it was a necessary to commit our blood and treasure
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to a cause to keep america safe. the intelligence may have proven to be false but there was no doubt in my mind they were motivated to keep america safe. in retrospect, we can say the intelligence was faulty. actually, we discovered a couple of times when we raised the threat level, there was one instance a couple years later, that turned out to be faulty. but sometimes you don't have the luxury of waiting. in some instance, when you thought they had weapons of mass destruction, the united nations had sanctioned them so many times and nothing ever happened and somebody had to make a move. i find it rather difficult to think that anybody in this country would believe that people in charge of their government, republicans or democrats, liberals or conservatives, would commit our blood and our treasure to a cause if they didn't really believe in their heart and their mind that it wasn't to protect america. i just reject that notion. >> i think that's an eloquent argument. i have to tell you. i think you making that argument right now is why republicans after the bush and cheney administration, are not going to
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get back the country's trust on national security. to look back at that decision and say, we got it wrong but it was in good faith and not acknowledge the foregone conclusion that we are going to invade iraq that pervaded every decision that was made about intelligence. looking back at that decision-making process, it sounds like you're making the argument you would have made the same decision again. americans need to believe in our government would not make that wrong a decision that would not make such a foregone conclusion -- take such a foregone conclusion to such an important issue that the intelligence that proved the opposite point was all discounted, that the intelligence was combed through for any bit that would support the foregone conclusion of the policymakers. the system was broken. and if you don't see that the system was broken and you think it was just that the intel was wrong, i think that you're one of the most trusted voices on national security for the republican party, and i think that's the elephant in the room. i don't think you guys get back your credibility on national
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security until you realize that was a wrong decision made by policymakers. it wasn't the spy's fault. >> i think your suggestion that it was driven by, quite obviously, the people who made the decision knew more about the threat than you and i do. and, again, i think it's a pretty radical conclusion to suggest men and women trust the safety of this country would predicate the decision on any other basis other than to keep america safe. later on it may have been proven that some of the information was inaccurate. but there were plenty of other reasons to go into iraq at the time, the foremost weapons of mass destruction. that obviously proven to be faulty. but the fact of the matter is at that time, what they knee, and they knew more than you and i did, it was the right thing to do, and the decision was made in what they considered to be the best interest of our country. we have been litigating it now five or six years. i against we're going to continue to litigate it. historians -- the final history hasn't been written because it's iraq.
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it's some form of self-governance, some form of democracy ultimately is achieved in iraq, and it's not going to look exactly like ours, but the muslim world does admire freedom of speech. the muslim world does admire democracy, as difficult as it is over there, the notion that we went in improperly will be obviously reversed and the history has yet to be written. >> reversed? >> well, democracy in iraq will s make a huge difference, not just for the men and women and the people and families in iraq, but for the entire region for a lot of reasons. >> if you can go back in time and sell the american people on the idea that 4,000 americans ought to lose their lives and we ought to lose trillions of dollars for democracy in iraq, you have a wilder imagination than i do. we were sold that war because of 9/11. we were sold that war because of the threat of weapons of mass destruction from this guy who didn't have them and our government should have known it. and, frankly, a lot of people believe our government did know it and it was a cynical decision. and maybe everybody wasn't in it on it, and maybe that is a radical thing to conclude -- >> i don't share that point of
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view. you do. i'm not going to convince you and you're not going to convince me. but i appreciate the civil way we had this discussion. frankly, i think we would advance the conditions of our country a lot faster and a lot further if we could have discussions like this. >> governor ridge, thank you for writing the book. thank you for fighting my interpretation of the book with such a pawn. >> thank you very much. >> thank you for coming in. >> the book is called "the test of our times: america under siege and how we can be safe again." it is out as of right now. we will be right back. you've wanted to quit smoking so many times,
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having played the fear for your life card on older people, on veteran, and even on people registered to vote as republicans, the forces against health care reform are now targeting women with breast cancer. seriously, that's coming up. first, a few holy mackerel stories in today's news. we start in pennsylvania, where heather sherba is a 22-year-old from the pittsburgh area who was among the 12 victims of that horrible august 4th mass shooting at an l.a. fitness club in collier township, pennsylvania. three innocent people were killed in that attack before the gunman killed himself.
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heather sherba was shot in the leg. she's one of the nine people who survived their wounds from that shooting. onto the emotional and physical trauma of having experienced that completely random, senseless act of violence, miss sherba has had to deal with her injuries without the benefit of health insurance. at age 22, she is aged out of being covered as a child under her parents' plan and having just graduated from college, she doesn't yet have a job who could provide her with health insurance. and since health insurance is so expensive to buy individually out in the open market, miss sherba, live 47 million other americans, is going without. now she's been injured in that shooting. how exactly does a person in her position manage? well, in heather's case, wpxi in pennsylvania reports that the solution is a car wash. normally, the preferred fund-raiser for school trips and marching band uniforms, a car wash to help finance miss sherba's medical bills from her stay at allegheny general hospital was organized by her friends and family earlier this month. >> heather is a recent college graduate who has no job or health insurance.
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>> it just feels good inside knowing that you're helping somebody, you know, she doesn't have insurance, the poor thing. so, we just thought we should do this. >> i'm just absolutely grateful that everybody that is supportive of me and has come out and is willing to lend a helping hand in raise money for me. >> the car wash raised about $500 to help heather bay her bills. good on her friends and family for helping out. good luck to her as she continues to recover from her very, very, very scary summer. and god forgive the richest nation on earth for making this the excuse we have for a health care system. meanwhile in washington, d.c., the effort to stop health reform continues. and for republican senator judd gregg of new hampshire, congress's rules of engagement have conveniently just changed, just in the nick of time. back in 2005, republicans were the majority party in the u.s. senate. democrats in the minority, did sometimes use the filibuster to
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stop republicans from passing what they wanted with a simple majority. now, the democrats didn't use the filibuster nearly as much as the republicans do now, but they did sometimes use it. in a debate that year over drilling the caribou in the arctic national wildlife refuge in alaska, senator judd gregg decided he was done with filibuster. he would have none of it. republicans wouldn't be able to get 60 votes to overcome that filibuster so judd gregg went to the floor of the senate to say that drilling in anwar should be considered under budget reconciliation rules, these rules that would require just a simple majority of 51 votes. >> the point, of course, is this -- if you've got 51 votes for your position, you win. is there something wrong with majority rules? i don't think so. >> something wrong? these are very heady days for
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senator gregg. then 2006 happened, and then 2008 happened, and now the republicans are a very, very, very, very tiny minority in the u.s. senate. they are the ones who are filibustering now more than ever. and faced with the real possibility that senate democrats could use those same judd gregg-approved budget reconciliation rules to pass health reform with just 51 votes, senator gregg now wants you to know that he's appalled by that prospect, appalled, i tell you. according to "the hill" newspaper, mr. gregg says that republicans will wage a vicious fight if democrats use reconciliation rules to pass a health care bill. senator gregg threatened hundreds of objections to the bill to stall it and added, quote, we are very much engaged in taking a hard look at our rights under reconciliation. it would be very contentious. it would be very contentious if they did it. but when we did it, simple. not contentious. majority rule. senator judd gregg, keeping to
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the one true political rule that always holds now among congressional republicans. it is -- like it says back there, iokwardi -- it's okay when a republican does it. always very consistent. finally, health reform has its own fictional bad-ass advocate at last. with chuck norris on the birther bandwagon and hulk hogan on has fallen to legendary made-up special agent jack bauer to make a progressive case to health reform that has nothing to do with torture. >> in the united states, where i am currently living, i see the devastating effects of not having a national health care system. 15% of all americans, 43 million people, have no health coverage of any kind. if my grandpa were here tonight, he would tell you that our canadian health care system needs to improve, not be cut back. and he would tell you that it was damn well worth fighting for. >> jack bauer, it turns out,
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lives by day as an actor named kiefer sutherland. he's canadian by birth and his grandfather, tommy douglas, was a legendary politician from saskatchewan. tommy douglas introduced universal health care in canada. and for his troubles, he was voted the greatest canadian of all time in a nationally televised contest a few years ago. now is the part where i please ask kiefer sutherland to please come on this tv show. please, please. sometimes the best way to get closer... is to get as far away from it all as possible. don't let erectile dysfunction get in the way. ♪ viva viagra! viagra, america's most prescribed ed treatment, can help you enjoy... a more satisfying sexual experience. ready to talk to your doctor? find out how at viagra.com ask your doctor if your heart is healthy enough for sex. don't take viagra if you take nitrates for chest pain...
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i'm pretty much the same as i am in a plastic bottle? except that you'll save, like, $600 bucks a year. but other than that, we're pretty much the same. pur. good, clean water.
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(announcer) regular kool-aid.
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first, back in july, there was the conspiracy theory that health reform was a secret plot to kill old people. last month, health reform was a secret plot to kill veterans. last month we learned from the republican national committee that health reform was a secret plot to dole out health care only to democrats, a secret plot to kill off people registered to vote as republicans by preventing republicans from getting any health care that one was so bad, republicans even had to apologize for it. now that it's a new week, we have even another new i can't believe it conspiracy theory, another plot to scare a group of americans apparently perceived to be vulnerable to these scare
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tactics. not old people or veterans or republicans, this time, women with breast cancer. no, i am not kidding. >> if you find a lump, government control of health care here could have meant 300,000 women with breast cancer might have died. my odds of surviving cancer were high because my care was the best. what are your odds if the government takes over your health care. >> go to independent women's forum to share your story. >> health reform a secret plot to kill hundreds of thousands of women with breast cancer. that ad is being broadcast in a multimillion ad buy in eight states by independent women's forum. we called them today and still waiting for their response. the independent women's forum sent out a fund-raising e-mail covering the same scare tactics
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territory. the e-mail has the subject line quote more american women are going to die. after that bucket of fortune in the face, it begins quote more american women are going to die of breast cancer if you and i surrender to president obama's nationalized health care onslaught. real people might not make it if president obama inflicts his nationalized health care on america. so be afraid women with breast cancer, health reform is a secret plot to kill you, pay no attention that every major breast canter advocacy group supports health care reform. the independent women's forum wants you to be afraid and also send them a big check. joining us now terry o'neil, president of the national organization for women, thanks for joining us tonight. >> thank you. >> let me get your reaction to this ad, specifically targeting women with breast cancer, what do you think? >> i saw the video and looked at
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it. it made me mad. i don't like being manipulated to and don't think women like. women are bearing the brunt of the broken health care system. we know what we need and don't need scare tactics claiming women with breast cancer will die if we don't have health care reform. it's outrageous. >> we have seen lot of women targeted by anti-health care forces, women, republicans, we haven't heard a lot of wom begin targeted with these be afraid tactics. do you think women are being specifically targeted more than under the radar of this front? >> i think this is new targeting women this particular way. it is not new for extremists in the republican party to use women's need for reproductive health services as a political football. breast cancers is part of the spectrum of reproductive health care services women are impacted by. before they came out with these kinds of deceptive ads, the republicans in congress were trying to pass amendments that would stop women from having
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access to a range of reproductive health care services should health care reform actually pass. i view that as a means of trying to derail health care reform all together but by using women's bodies as a political football in that effort. >> your organization, the national organization for women obviously has a singular focus on women's issues in terms of health care policy that's being debated right now. what is your position on what sort of reform would be most beneficial for women? >> what women really need is a single payer health care system. women have larger health care costs because of reproductive needs and prenatal and childbirth care. right now, women have less access to health insurance than men do because we work part-time and part-time jobs don't pay benefits or women are disproportion n disproportionately represented
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in minimum wage jobs and non-union jobs without health care. as long as we have a health care system that depends on employers to provide health insurance women are not going to have enough insurance. even when we have insurance, we pay too much for it. there are things like pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition. if you're pregnant when you get that job with health care, you don't have prenatal care covered. guess what? women who don't have prenatal care when pregnant are two to three times likely to suffer maternal morbidity or mortality. infants have a six times higher likelihood of mortality if their mom doesn't have prenatal care. it's incredibly important. where are the right wingers scaring us with these breast cancer claims? where are they tv they care so much about women with breast cancer, let's have them call for full coverage for wom sewn we can be protected against that?
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>> terry o'neil, the national organization for women, you let me know if any of them get in touch with you with an offer to do that. this christian right acting rather unchristian when it comes to health care reform. keith olbermann welcome tackle that next with savage. if you think all batteries are the same, consider this:
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you get esurance's "fast 5 (tm) discount" just for getting an instant online quote. - thanks, professor. - don't forget the good student discount. and there's even more discounts! it's no "secret" that you can save hundreds with esurance. make it your "mission" to click or call esurance today. my conversation with former homeland security tom ridge is one of the things that makes me grateful for this show. and trying to scare me with the farmer's almanac, he will scare me tomorrow with that. "hardball" is next with chris matthews. quitting kabul, let's play "hardball."
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good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, you don't have to stay forever, just be close at hand. that's what some people are saying about afghanistan. we don't have to occupy the country to keep al qaeda from coming back. just be offshore and ready to strike with everything we've got. here's the hard truth about keeping our troops in country. it's easy to win support for a new war, it's a lot harder to maintain that support once reality sets in. think about how popular the wars in iraq and vietnam were at the start. but once the casualties pile up, once the costs grew, once the protests mounted, the public's enthusiasm withered. the same is true now for the war in afghanistan, which had support left, right, and center as we pursued the killers of 9/11 into that country. now, left and right including conservative columnist, george f. will, want us to get out. can president obama continue this war? much less escalate its involvement if the public isn't with him? also what about bob mcconnell, the republican candidate for governor of virginia?

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